While not a traditional practice in Romania, we can say pro bono work has increased in the last years, as more law firms have been providing pro bono assistance to a quite wide circle of vulnerable groups and socially disadvantaged classes.
In addition, the efforts of various non-governmental organisations in Romania to foster pro bono work have contributed to raising the awareness on the need for and benefits of pro bono activity for the Romanian community.
Legal Aid System
Romanian legislation provides a legal aid system according to which the Romanian State supports the socially disadvantaged classes by offering facilities, such as legal aid or publicly appointed lawyers for defendants in certain criminal proceedings in order to ensure the protection of their procedural rights.
In addition, the Romanian State supports costs for providing legal assistance in non-criminal proceedings based on request from applicants who cannot afford such legal assistance and meet the conditions provided by the legislation. The lawyers providing such legal aid must be included in the Legal Aid Registry maintained by each local bar.
Pro bono activity
Currently, the pro bono activity of lawyers is not governed by a specific legal framework. Further, there is no publicly available report or other publicly statistics regarding the requests or the needs for pro bono legal assistance.
In addition, non-governmental organisations aim to create links between law firms and communities requiring legal assistance in Romania.
The majority of pro bono projects relate to areas such as education, health and other social areas. The main targeted groups include children, young and elderly people or single mothers. The pro bono work includes consultancy in various area (including family law, employment, social security legislation) and support / legal representation in relationship with Romanian public authorities or courts.
In practice, law firms (including ourselves) are providing pro bono legal assistance to individuals or to the non-governmental organisations, trainings on specific legal topics of interest for vulnerable groups or for the non-governmental organisations supporting vulnerable groups. Pro bono work is usually carried out by the law firms (including ourselves) with the same commitment and dedication as the legal work provided to their clients in order to provide a real support to the community they are part of.